Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

in association with the Fairness Project
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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January 27, 2003

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Special Israeli Election Update
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In-Depth Issue:

Hussein Had '91 Exile Plan (AP/Toronto Globe and Mail)
    In the 1991 Persian Gulf war, Saddam Hussein had already packed his suitcase and picked a place of exile, Libya or Eritrea, then decided against fleeing because he felt he was not in danger, Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz told the Yediot Ahronot daily.
    This time around, with regional leaders calling on Mr. Hussein to leave Iraq and save the country from what could be a disastrous U.S. invasion, it is unknown whether Baghdad's dictator has made similar arrangements, he said.

800 Missiles to Hit Iraq in First 48 Hours - Andrew West (Sydney Morning Herald)
    The U.S. intends to shatter Iraq "physically, emotionally, and psychologically" by raining down on its people as many as 800 cruise missiles in two days.
    The Pentagon battle plan aims not only to crush Iraqi troops, but also wipe out power and water supplies in the capital, Baghdad.
    It is based on a strategy known as "Shock and Awe," conceived at the National Defense University in Washington, in which 300-400 cruise missiles would fall on Iraq each day for two consecutive days, more than twice the number of missiles launched during the entire 40 days of the 1991 Gulf War.

Israel at the Polls - 2003:

The 16 Tribes of Israel (Reuters)
    In Israel's general election on Tuesday, opinion polls show 16 different parties with a chance of winning a minimum of 50,000 votes (1.5% of the total) - enough to enter the Knesset, Israel's 120-seat parliament.

Tarmit Fortress in Gaza: Voting Under Fire - Felix Frisch (Yediot Ahronot)
    The newly rebuilt Tarmit Fortress, separating the Palestinian town of Rafiah in Gaza from Egypt, is manned by Bedouin IDF soldiers from the Desert Patrol battalion.
    To reach the outpost, you drive on what the IDF calls the "Philadelphia" road, a stretch where you leave the bullet-proof bus and transfer to an armored personnel carrier.
    One-third of all the shooting incidents in the territories happen here.

Key Links

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Back Issues

News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • No Iraq Ultimatum in State of the Union
    President Bush's State of the Union address Tuesday will include neither a final ultimatum for Iraq nor a timetable for deciding on war, but will try to convince skeptics around the world that Saddam Hussein is an imminent danger to peace. (Washington Post)
  • UN Officials Say Intelligence to Prove U.S. Claims is Lacking
    After almost two months of daily searches, the inspectors have been unable to confirm U.S. and British suspicions that a host of former weapons sites and industrial facilities have been rebuilt during the past four years to produce banned weapons. (Washington Post)
  • Saddam Planning to Blow Up Oil Wells
    The U.S. has detected indications that Saddam Hussein is planning to blow up Iraq's 1,500 oil wells in the event of a U.S.-led invasion, including evidence that he has already wired some well heads with explosives, the Pentagon said Friday. One defense official said: "There are a number of indications through reliable intelligence sources that the process (of planning oil well destruction) may have already begun." After the 1991 Gulf War, Iraqi forces set fire to 730 of Kuwait's 1,000 oil fields, which Washington said cost $20 billion to repair. The official added that there is also evidence Saddam is planning to release up to 3 million gallons of crude oil into the Gulf. (London Times)
  • Bio-War Suits Found in London Mosque
    Detectives investigating a plot by Islamic terrorists to carry out a chemical weapons attack in Britain found chemical warfare protection suits at the Finsbury Park mosque in north London last Monday. The discovery confirmed growing fears by police and MI5 that a chemical attack is being planned by al Qaeda in Britain. Last month a chemical warfare suit was seized after French police arrested four suspects in a Paris suburb. (London Times)
  • Bush Readies Aid for U.S. Allies Near Iraq
    Turkey is expected to receive as much as $14 billion, most of it in the form of loan guarantees, in exchange for cooperation in a possible war. Washington has also promised Jordan an aid package worth more than $1 billion. (Reuters)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • Rockets Fired from Gaza Hit Israel
    CNN's Michael Holmes: "In the last hour, some five Qassam rockets were fired by Palestinians into Israel on the northern border of Gaza. We saw three or four of them take off from our position here [in Gaza City] into Israel." (CNN)
        IDF Activity in Gaza City (Israel Defense Forces)
    Following the launching of Kassam missiles toward the city of Sderot and other Israeli communities, IDF units operated in Gaza City to destroy over 100 lathes used to produce weapons such as Kassam missiles and mortars. Since the beginning of the violence, over 1,400 mortars and Kassam missiles have been launched toward Israeli communities. During the operation, dozens of explosive devices, anti-tank missiles, and massive gunfire were directed at IDF soldiers. The soldiers returned fire toward the armed terrorists. There were no casualties among the IDF forces.
        "In the last few weeks and over the past weekend we have seen an increase in attempts by terror organizations, in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, to carry out attacks," Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz told Israel Radio Sunday. Mofaz cited the 10 Kassam rockets fired by Hamas from the Gaza Strip on Friday on the Negev town of Sderot. "We must provide defense to the citizens of Israel," he said. (Ha'aretz)
        IDF Strikes Deep into Gaza to Combat Rocket Attacks - Margot Dudkevitch
    Palestinians reported 12 killed and more than 50 wounded after the deepest IDF incursion into Gaza City in years. The majority of those killed were Hamas and Islamic Jihad affiliates. Palestinian reports identified them as "combatants." Senior officers said the Palestinians have recently moved the rocket launchers from Beit Hanoun to the Jabalya refugee camp due to IDF pressure. "The Palestinians are launching these attacks from densely populated areas, putting their own civilians at risk," one senior officer said. (Jerusalem Post)
        Palestinians Surprised at Raid - Matthew Gutman
    Many Palestinians were chagrined to learn that Israel incurred no casualties in a raid many Palestinians had believed it would be too cautious to launch. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Booby-Trapped Donkey Explodes Near Bus South of Jerusalem - Margot Dudkevitch
    A donkey rigged with explosives blew up Sunday morning as a bus passed on the road from Jerusalem to Gush Etzion, approximately 80 meters from a nearby IDF roadblock. No one was wounded, though a bus passenger was treated for shock. According to the army, a gas canister filled with explosives and metal rods was strapped to the donkey and a second, full of explosives, was placed next to it. The bombs were detonated simultaneously by two cellphones. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Hamas Leader: PA Gives Tacit Approval for Suicide Attacks - Khaled Abu Toameh
    The Palestinian Authority has not tried to stop Hamas from carrying out attacks, including suicide bombings, the group's spiritual leader said on Friday. When asked what assistance the PA gave Hamas, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin said: "They turn a blind eye or turn their back." (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Letting the Gaza Genie Out of the Bottle - Amos Harel
    Israel has found itself, over the past few days, facing a new kind of front along the border with the Gaza Strip. In the last week, Sderot and the surrounding kibbutzim and moshavim have come under a daily barrage of rockets. The mass production of the Kassams, with a range of 7.5 kms, is beginning to bother the IDF, concerned for possible casualties if one such "primitive" rocket hit a heavily-populated building. Palestinian losses from the Israeli action have shown them what to expect from a more wide-scale offensive. (Ha'aretz)
  • Clear Ties of Terror - William Safire
    Even the Bush administration's most reluctant warrior has come to accept the validity of the link that embattled Kurds have been trying to warn us of since Sept. 11: Saddam and the followers of bin Laden are bedfellows. Iraq, concluded Secretary of State Colin Powell this weekend in Switzerland, has "clear ties to terrorist groups, including al Qaeda." (New York Times)
  • How Many People Has Hussein Killed? - John F. Burns
    Rust-colored butchers' hooks, 20 or more, each four or five feet long, are aligned in rows along the ceiling of a large hangar-like building in the grimmest fortress in Iraq's gulag - the place of mass hangings that have been a documented part of life under Saddam Hussein. If an attack is launched without convincing proof that Iraq is still harboring forbidden arms, history may judge that the stronger case was the one that needed no inspectors to confirm: that Saddam Hussein, in his 23 years in power, plunged this country into a bloodbath of medieval proportions, and exported some of that terror to his neighbors. (New York Times)
  • Talking Points:

    IDF Experts Say Intifada Violence Has Passed Its Peak - Amos Harel (Ha'aretz)

    • Senior IDF sources think the approaching American offensive against Iraq will bring heavy pressure on Palestinians to cease all acts of terrorism against Israel, according to a recent analysis by the Defense Ministry.
    • The IDF believes Arafat is still not interested in a genuine cease-fire and is doing everything in his power to undercut any sort of cohesion in the Cairo talks between the Palestinian factions.
    • Arafat remains "an effective leader" insofar as he is capable of neutralizing any efforts by Palestinians to engineer a "quiet overthrow" aimed at ending the violence and removing him from the center of power.
    • After an attack on Iraq, IDF sources believe the Americans will propose alternatives to Arafat for Palestinian leadership.
    • IDF analysts believe the peak of the violence has passed, although serious security concerns and warnings will continue as efforts are made to carry out more Palestinian terrorist attacks against Israel. They don't believe the conflict will end in 2003, but they do think there is now an opportunity for achieving calm.

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